Game Girl Advance’s holiday 2023 buyer’s guide

The holiday season is upon us once again, and along with family, friends and festivities, of course, comes this year’s crop of releases. If you’re anything like me, chances are you’re already addressing an envelope to the North Pole and thinking about what upcoming games might be making an addition to your library. 

Most anticipated, or at least most advertised, comes “Call of Duty Modern Warfare III,” the latest entry in Infinity Ward’s monumental shooter franchise. The campaign will be available for purchase on PC, PlayStation and Xbox platforms as a standalone product; however, the game will work as part of Call of Duty HQ, the digital hub for free-to-play “Call of Duty Warzone,” and “Call of Duty Modern Warfare II.”

This method of publishing will allow players to enjoy new content brought by the release while maintaining their multiplayer progress and profiles, a notably efficient improvement by developers. The base game is listed for $69.99 with the “Vault Edition” coming in at $99.99.

Next up is “The Lord of The Rings: Return to Moria” by Free Range Games. Tolkien fans now have the opportunity to explore the procedurally generated depths of this famous location. “Return to Moria” is a survival-crafting game that features multiplayer co-op up to eight players. Together with your fellow dwarves, work to reclaim this ancient homeland, or go it alone. 

If this game is of interest to you, ensure you play in the company of friends, as games of this genre are notoriously difficult and uninteresting for solo play. The game is currently listed on the Epic Games Store for $39.99 but the console release has been delayed until Dec. 5, with currently no option for pre-order. 

Lastly, we come to “Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name” from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. For those unfamiliar with the Yakuza franchise, this game is a side story that follows protagonist Kazuma Kiryu between the events of “Yakuza 6: The Song of Life” and “Yakuza: Like a Dragon,” the series’ seventh installment. “Like a Dragon Gaiden” steers away from the controversial shift to turn-based combat seen in “Yakuza: Like a Dragon,” and returns to its heavy-hitting brawler roots. 

Newcomers to the series might feel a bit lost attempting to familiarize themselves with the world of Yakuza, a series that has put out seven mainline entries, and over 10 spin-off titles. However, for longtime fans anticipating the release of “Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth” in late January, “Like a Dragon Gaiden” will likely be foundational to this next story.  The game is currently available for $49.99 on PC, PlayStation and Xbox stores. 

In addition to these new releases, anyone looking for something new to play should keep an eye out for holiday sales, some of which have already begun. Major retailers will also be discounting gaming hardware, with new console inventory likely to be restocked as well. 

For those who have yet to purchase a current generation console, consider the newest version of the Sony PlayStation 5, now sporting a slimmer form factor and a modular Blu-Ray disc drive. The console will be available directly from Sony’s website for $499.99 as inventory rollout proceeds throughout November. 

Alternatively, if a more portable setup would fit your needs, the Steam Deck OLED hits the market on Nov. 16 boasting greater battery life, updated thermal technology, larger NVMe solid-state hard drive options and Wifi 6E capability. The handheld console lists at $549.99 for the 512GB model, and $649.99 for the 1TB model.

No matter what we each choose to celebrate this holiday season, or what console we play on, the end of the year always brings something new to enjoy. Happy Holidays, and happy shopping!

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